Showing posts from January, 2015

Gilliam & Morrow Counties

On Thursday I drove east for my second installment of Gilliam County birding.  My first stop was Willow Creek Wildlife Area, which requires a detour through Morrow County before emerging at a viewpoint of Willow Lake. 

Stellar windshield cellphone photo

The road twists down to a small parking area surrounded by sagebrush, and the dogs and I braved the narrow trail heading north along the eastern shore of the lake. 

Scanning the water turned up hundreds of coots, Ring-necked Ducks, Bufflehead, Mallards, and some Scaup Sp.   I meant to get the scope out of the trunk when we got back to the car and see what else was out there, but I forgot.  Driving back towards the highway I made a wrong turn somewhere and came around a corner and flushed hundreds of Canada and Snow Geese.  Since the Snow Geese were flagged by eBird, I felt this was a decent find. 

Back to the highway, and back to Arlington, the unofficial gateway of Gilliam County.  A lone Greater White-fronted Goose has been slumming…

My big secret.

No, this is not clickbait, but yes, I'm about to divulge a most embarrassing secret to you all:  I am terrible at scaup.  For the first two or three years of birding I never even said the word "scaup" out loud because I didn't know how to say it.  Now I rarely try to distinguish lessers and greaters unless I "need" to for a county bird, year bird, or some other ridiculous list.  I remember being at Lake Merritt in Oakland a couple years ago and seeing them up close and thinking how easy they were, so maybe it's just that I normally see them at a great distance? 

I need to work on this.  I can feel eBird roll its eyes at me every time I enter "Greater/Lesser Scaup X".  Last week I walked over to Broughton Beach for my motorless list and found a lot of scaup close in on the river, a perfect opportunity for learning.  Let's begin.

This bird above clearly has that head peak folks like to talk about for Lesser Scaup.  Is it that simple?  Am I…

Recent stuff.

Oh man have I been slacking on my motorless list so far this year.  I haven't even dusted off my bike yet- all my birds are from dog walks and the yard.  LAME.  Hopefully I can fix that on my days off coming up, but till then, here is what I have to show for myself.

January sunrises are top notch

My drive home from work this month has coincided with the time of day that I have always called (in my head, not to anyone else) when the crows fly.  I started noticing the evening flight of crows a few years ago and have since really enjoyed watching this sort of low budget spectacle.  Having this occur while stuck in traffic really makes things better.

I have heard rumors of a big crow roost downtown, and perhaps that is where these birds are heading.  They fly over my backyard sometimes, passing in pairs, sixes, dozens, quietly and with purpose.  It's calming.

In yard news, I have had all of my ash tree cleaned up and removed, and the fence finally fixed.  There has not been a huge …

Washington State.

I spent the beginning of my work week thinking that on my weekend I would drive out to see the Black-headed Gull in Umatilla.  But then people stopped seeing the gull.  Then I decided I would head to Netarts for the Baltimore Oriole.  But then people stopped seeing the oriole.  By the time my weekend came around yesterday I was itching to take a day trip somewhere and a reliable Long-eared Owl in Stanwood, WA became my new target. 

I arrived at Eide Road in Stanwood around 9:15, and found two or three Short-eared Owls, like the one above, flying all over.  The few people around had not seen the Long-eared but the Short-eareds were entertaining and rather tame. 

My stomach started growling embarrassingly loudly while watching this owl and I decided to head out to do some exploring elsewhere and eat some lunch.  One fellow at the spot suggested I go up to Fir Island to see the Snow Goose spectacle.  Seemed like as good a plan as any. 

I drove around Fir Island for awhile, finding only …